Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
By Fire Above: A Signal Airship Novel Hardcover – May 15, 2018
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
“Bennis opens and closes with fierce combat sequences and layers in knotty questions about how to distinguish between loyalty and romance from love, and balance obedience to superiors with duty to subordinates, all starkly highlighted by life-or-death decisions forced on the characters. Readers will hear both the crackle of musket fire and the heartfelt cries of honest self-admission in this rich adventure.” ―Publishers Weekly
Praise for the Signal Airship series
“Steampunky navy-in-the-air military tale full of sass and terrific characters. Great storytelling. Loved it.” ―Patricia Briggs
“Marvelous, witty, gory AF, action-packed steampunk with exquisite attention to detail. Bennis's writing is incredible, her vocabulary impressive, and she honest to God made me believe you could build an airship from spare parts.”―New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Ann Aguirre
“The Guns Above is a sharp, witty Ruritanian adventure full of flintlock rifles, plumed shakos, brass buttons... and airships! Taking place in an alternate mid-nineteenth-century Europe where dirigibles ply the smoky air over battlefields and women have been grudgingly admitted to the air corps,The Guns Above takes a clear-eyed, even cynical view of the 'glories' of war, complete with blood, shit, shattered limbs, and petty squabbles among the nobility. The aerial combat is gut-clenchingly realistic, the two viewpoint characters are well-drawn and as different as can be, and the action never stops. Hard women learn compassion, soft men learn bravery, and the fate of a nation depends on one rickety airship and its stalwart crew. A winner!” ―David D. Levine, author of Arabella of Mars
“An engaging gunpowder adventure with a helping of witty Noel Coward dialogue and a touch of Joseph Heller.” ―Tina Connolly, Nebula Award-nominated author of Ironskin
“Wonderfully adventurous and laudably detailed. Bennis paints airship battles so clearly you'd swear they were from memory.” ―Becky Chambers, author of The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet
“Most airships seem to be powered by handwaving, but Bennis builds hers out of solid, believable detail. You couldn't pay me enough to go up in one of those flying death-traps, but I never question for an instant why Josette does, and I'm cheering for her every step of the way.“―Marie Brennan, author of A Natural History of Dragons
“Buckle in. The crew of the Mistral will take readers on adventures they won’t soon forget.” ―Pip Ballantine, author of The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series
“Hold on to your goggles, Bennis' The Guns Above is a nonstop ride.” ―Suzanne Lazear, author of The Aether Chronicles Series
“A fast-paced military fantasy, full of colourful characters and quirky humour that had me laughing throughout. Every fan of airships should read this.” ―Marc Turner, author of Dragon Hunters
“Bennis's prose is wry and explosive!” ―Lawrence Schoen, author of Barsk
“Entertaining from start to finish, laced with brash banter and characters full of grit, muscle, and heart.”―Jacqueline Koyanagi, author of Ascension
“Bennis writes a pleasing mix of banter and gritty battle scenes, combining both the adrenaline rush of combat and its horrifying results, and never indulging in too-sudden social victories that might cheapen the long struggle against embedded prejudice.” ―Publishers Weekly
“An exciting new world that will attract steampunk fans of all ages and leave them hoping for more.” ―Booklist
“An inventive military fantasy that will grab readers at the first page. Delightful, memorable characters make up Bennis’ debut, along with her concise, amusing storytelling. Without a doubt, Bennis’ latest is a highly entertaining read.”―RT Book Reviews, four stars
“A fun blend of flintlock rifles, airships, military exercises, and wry commentary on both gender politics and 'military intelligence.' There’s enough whip-smart dialogue to make any reader laugh outloud, and readers who are mechanically inclined will love the detailed descriptions of gears, flight tests, and ballast.” ―Fantasy Literature
“Delightfully dry whistle-past-the-graveyard humour, a soupçon of sarcasm, and an approach to military action that reminds me of nothing so much as Forrester’s Hornblower or Cornwell’s Sharpe novels―but with airships and female officers....The Guns Above is an immensely entertaining, fast-paced adventure.” ―Liz Bourke, Tor.com
"Airships, kick-ass women, and military fiction with a hint of fantasy… I mean, really, what more could you want?" ―Nerdophile
“Although The Guns Above may be author Robyn Bennis’ first published novel, it certainly reads as though she’s found her voice― and a great story to boot.” ―Culturess
About the Author
ROBYN BENNIS is a scientist and airship aficionado living in Madison, Wisconsin. By Fire Above is the sequel to her debut novel, The Guns Above.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
I read an interview with Bennis recently where she cited the works of Bernard Cornwell as an inspiration for the Signal Airship series. With that in mind, I went into this sequel expecting it would (in Cornwell-y fashion) follow a formula set by the first: Josette gets no respect, is given a crappy mission, stumbles onto an urgent need to save the kingdom, defies orders to do so, pulls it off with aplomb, crashes her airship by the end of the book, and receives recognition and reprimand in equal measure. (And to be clear: I could read 30 books of that and it would still be enjoyable, because Bennis is an outstanding writer.)
But I'm delighted to say "By Fire Above" takes an entirely different shape altogether. Where the first book was a series of one urgent situation cascading into the next, the second gives the characters a much-deserved break, settling down for a while in a charming baroque city for some more personal stories that feel right out of a regency romance novel. Then, instead of a blistering series of set-piece battles aboard the Mistral, we actually leave the airship almost altogether, for a single, sprawling campaign on the ground.
It's a really clever decision, because it knocks just about every character out of their comfort zone, and presents a new canvas of warfare that allows for things like stealth missions, interrogations, and bayonet ambushes in grimy alleyways. It also creates a really fantastic sense of momentum. With every chapter, I found myself thinking, okay, surely the NEXT bit is the part where they get back on the damn airship already?!
And the character work! Where the first book was an ice-cold military procedural that quietly rationed out personal arcs under the table, the sequel pulls an exact 180, with character stuff sitting front and center, while the military thriller stuff takes the tiniest little step back.
The result of all this is a book that fits with its predecessor like a perfect puzzle-piece, filling in all the spaces that the first book didn't, and not bothering to retread moments the first book already nailed.
I am in awe of Bennis's talents, I adore this series, and I cannot wait for more.
Fresh off the explosive events of the first book, Josette has a newfound fame as an airship captain and a very badly damaged airship. Rather than send her straight back to the front, the powers that be decide she would better serve the war effort doing flyovers to impress the nobility.
This leads to a slow first half. The Guns Above started slowly as well, but the care in setting up the fragility of an airship paid off when things heated up in the second half. The slow start here is neither as necessary nor as effective. And, frankly, Bennis is better at skewering the military than the aristocracy. Which is not to say that Bennis doesn’t get some good shots in.
“‘Then it seems to me,’ Josette said, once she was reasonably convinced that the animal was under control, ‘that the dogs are doing all the work. Why are we here at all? Do the Duke’s hounds not know the way home?’
‘You’re missing a critical component,’ Roland said, laughing. ‘After the hounds have done all the work, we take the carcass away, before they can eat it.’
She wrinkled her nose. ‘This is truly the perfect sport for the aristocracy.’”
By Fire above is still dang funny. Once again, this is Josette and Bernat’s show, although, as the cover suggests, Bernat arguably leaps to the forefront. Bernat has to come to grips with a brother who might take his title and his airship captain (“No, he will be Marquis because of an accident of birth. As a commoner, you couldn’t possibly understand how frustrating that is.”). He also has to come to grips with his new life as a man of violence and with the toll the war is taking on his wardrobe (“How many suits must this damnable war take from me before it’s finally sated?”). Josette has to come to grips with a new nickname—the Shark—and a growing legend:
“The stories say you’re ten feet tall.”
“As usual, the stories are just about half right.”
And she has to come to grips with her fraught relationship with her mother.
The narrative once again returns to Josette’s hometown of Durum, this time with the goal of liberating it from the Vins. After the big pitched battle that ended The Guns Above, Bennis shifts focus to an insurgency. A bloody, bloody insurgency, the sort that results in 70 soldiers poisoned to death and a couple hundred townspeople killed in retribution. “But for every one the Vins hang, another three rise up. Seems to be a certain . . . ornery streak to people from Durum, if you don’t mind me saying so, sir.”
With Josette and Bernat on the ground working to liberate Durum, it’s a more grounded story (I got puns!). Which is something new, and well done, but it’s the airship battles that really make the Signal Airship series great. Josette does wind up doing “the exact [dang] opposite of her job,” after all. We get some airship battles, but not enough, and not nearly enough with Josette at the helm (Ensign Kember steps into a more prominent role here, and a new, incompetent first officer is added.)
These are really, really good military SF books. Blood and thunder is getting as rare these days as serious consideration of duty and honor. Bennis is shy of neither, but keeps the wry tongue and black humor proper to military science.
“It’s amazing what the fear of being thought afraid will do to an ambitious company captain.”
“The morality of inflicting pain and death was one thing, but having the captain mad at you was another entirely.”
“They behaved rudely, got drunk as fast as they could, made inappropriate advances, and invented all sorts of improbable stories that exaggerated their own personal heroism. In other words, they had at last become proper Garnian soldiers.”
By Fire Above is another kickbutt “hard steampunky” yarn. It is only the aforementioned slow start and one decision at the end—that I can’t talk about without getting way into spoiler territory—that keep it from the 5-star rating The Guns Above earned.
Disclosure: I received a copy of By Fire Above from the publisher.
Most recent customer reviews
Anyone with an interest in...Read more
One of my favorite under the radar books last year was The Guns Above by Robyn Bennis so...Read more